The name for my column is inspired by my Twitter handle, @dhanno. It seemed particularly fitting since I use social media pretty much daily to engage with students, share what’s happening on campus with parents and alumnae/i and connect with colleagues. For me, it’s a great way to communicate with my communities.
But as most of us know, social media has a dark side. Beyond the trolls and the hatred, it also affects society in ways that are less visible than an angry diatribe but equally dangerous: confirming our biases and reinforcing our convictions. Social media often resembles an echo chamber. Our Facebook and Twitter feeds tend to be filled with people, opinions and experiences very much like our own. It’s junk food, momentarily satisfying, but offering little in the way of intellectual nourishment.
Where technology falters, the college campus can excel. And there’s good reason for Wheaton and other colleges to ensure that students with different experiences and views interact in a variety of settings, beyond the virtual ones. Numerous studies have demonstrated that a diverse student body benefits all students. Developmental psychology suggests a good reason for this. Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are particularly receptive to considering new ideas, new social roles and their relationships to each other and the wider world. [Read more...]